Gym Owners: Health is Crucial During Pandemic

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Michigan gym owners continue to fight with the state and federal governments about their ability to be open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Bridge, the Michigan Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic heard Wednesday testimony from gym owners that believe their facilities should be reopened because they’re crucial for health — which is even more important during the pandemic.

“This is a very unhealthy state and a very unhealthy country, and it’s part of the reason we’re not doing well with COVID,” Alyssa Tushman, owner of three Burn Fitness gyms in metro Detroit, told the committee. “Our effort is not partisan. It is about human beings and human life and human health. We will do anything to get back in the game so we can help prevent future deaths.” 

An executive order from Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer has kept gyms closed since March.

“Gov. Whitmer is continuing to monitor cases and make decisions based on the best data and science,” spokesperson Tiffany Brown told Bridge. “As she has said all along, she will adjust as necessary when it comes to reengaging Michigan’s economy safely.”

On June 15, the executive order was relaxed in less-populated areas of Michigan, but it has remained in place everywhere else. After gym owners filed a lawsuit in late June, a federal court kept the order in place by overturning a ruling by a lower judge.

“Shaping the precise contours of public health measures entails some difficult line-drawing. Our Constitution wisely leaves that task to officials directly accountable to the people,” the 6th U.S. Court of Appeals wrote after voting to keep the order in place. “To date, the disease has infected thousands of Michiganders, and it has shown the potential to infect many more. That the public interest weighs in favor of a stay is apparent for the same reason."

Related content: Court Rules that Michigan Gyms Must Remain Closed

There have been 6,170 coronavirus-related deaths in the state, according to Bridge, which also reported that one in three Michigan residents met the definition for obesity in 2019. About 24 percent of the state reported low levels of physical activity last year.

Enforcement of the executive order is up to local police and county prosecutors, while some gyms have started to defy the order.

"We're open because I think it's unconstitutional," Don Larson, the owner of a Gold's Gym location, told the Detroit Free Press last month. “My members need a place to be to stay strong and healthy, and it keeps their immune systems high.”

Related content: Michigan Gyms Risk Legal Consequences to Defy Order

Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau agrees with the Michigan owners, saying gyms are “part of the solution” to the pandemic, according to CNBC.

“If you think about it, gyms are really a part of the health care delivery system, and to shut us down is counterproductive,” Rondeau told “Sqwak Alley,” noting 1,450 of 2,000 Planet Fitness gyms are currently open. “We really are part of the solution, not the problem.”

Related content: Planet Fitness Requires Masks; Some YMCAs Shut Down

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